Terri-Jane Yuzda


Let's hear from you...

The PEGG welcomes letters as an avenue for members to express opinions and concerns on issues or topics of interest to the professions. Share your experiences with other members.

Mail to:1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 4A2, E-mail: glee@apegga.org or Fax: (780) 425-1722 your letters to the editor, signed with your name and address.

Of course we can't publish all letters received and can't run letters concerning specific registration matters before any APEGGA regulatory body. Do try and keep your letters to 300 words or less. Remember, The PEGG reserves the right to edit for length, legality, coherence and taste. Letters that don't appear in the print version of The PEGG will sometimes appear in the electronic version only.

Petroleum and Water

I'm writing to raise the issue of fresh water usage by the petroleum industry, particularly the case of enhanced recovery schemes involving waterfloods.

We in Canada have in the past been blessed with an abundance of water, which led to attitudes and practices that may need to be changed, given our burgeoning population and increased draws on potable water supplies. If nothing else, perhaps higher charge rates are needed to encourage careful use of this resource, which is absolutely essential to life.

Many of our members work in the water treatment and management industry, and probably have a far better understanding than I of how supply and demand trends are evolving. It would be interesting to hear from them.

Dry conditions in recent years have exacerbated the problem, so acting sooner rather than later to develop alternative techniques can only improve the profile of our oil industry as suitable stewards of our resources.

I'm no expert in the field of secondary recovery, so I'm not sure of the technical viability of the following. I would nonetheless like to raise the question: Since we may be stuck with certain targets under the Kyoto Protocol, is anyone researching the replacement of waterfloods with CO2 injection into these same reservoirs? Do we have an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, by sequestering CO2 and simultaneously conserving our increasingly precious water supplies? Human life can be sustained without oil, but not without water.

John C. Davey, P. Geol.

Why Register Companies?

Having practiced in two other provinces, I was surprised to discover that Alberta requires all companies to be dues-paying, registered APEGGA members if they engage in engineering as defined in the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act. I believe this form of registration is a redundant and unnecessary drain on the economy.

Our Association says the intent of our act is to protect the public by ensuring that members and companies abide by ethical and safe practices. Having worked in manufacturing for several years, I can tell you that there is already an industrial process that forces manufacturing companies to retain or hire professional engineers. Insurers and government regulatory bodies require that companies reduce their public liability and increase their awareness of public safety.

It's also been argued that a permit to practice shows, to the courts, that a company is licensed to practice engineering and conforms to the Code of Ethics. Having been on the periphery of several lawsuits during my tenure as a compliance engineer with a large manufacturing firm, I can state that the license has no value in court.

In all the court experience the company I worked for gained, it was sufficient for the corporate compliance manager to state that he was a registered professional engineer, that the company retained a staff of so many designers, and the percentage of designers registered as professional engineers was X. He would list the governing bodies these engineers were regulated by, the standards they performed tests to, as well as where they exceeded those standards.

These answers were acceptable in every court throughout North America, without once requiring the company itself to be registered.

Yet another argument in favour of corporate registration stems from the fear that a company can coerce a professional employee to place corporate interest first and public safety second. By requiring that a company register, there is a commitment on the part of the company to maintain a standard that they can be judged against.

However, the Code of Ethics, which we all agreed to bind ourselves to as professional engineers, states we will place the public safety as our highest level of concern. I would have grave concerns should any professional allow himself or herself to be coerced in this manner. By requiring companies to register, we make a mockery of our own oath - in essence we publicly state that we do not trust our own members to stand behind their commitments.

While providing little or no value, we also, through the permit, generate a financial burden. At $335 per company and nearly 3,000 companies, we burden Alberta industry with around an extra $1 million per year.

Most manufacturing companies seem to fall in a return-on-investment range of one per cent to 30 per cent. That means in order to supply this $1 million in fees, registered corporations must make between $3.5 million and $100 million extra per year.

Profit margins are typically low when the economy is low, meaning that this license fee hits hardest when companies are most able to use this money elsewhere. Also, this is money that cannot be used to expand and create jobs.

These permit fees are in addition to individual licensing fees. I suspect that the corporations also pay most individual fees, as most of them perceive a legal benefit to retaining professional engineers on staff.

I respectfully request that our Council review the requirements for manufacturing firms to register. I would be very interested in hearing comments from other members, for or against my arguments.

Jack Chappell, P.Eng.
Grande Prairie

Friends of Laurie Campaign

Many geologists in the Calgary area have had the pleasure to become acquainted with Laurie Wilcox at the AEUB Core Research Centre. Late last year, we urged our membership to financially support Laurie for constructive surgery on her jawbone. This major correctiveoperation (total bill: $20,000) was not covered by Alberta Health Care.

We are pleased to inform you that we successfully raised the funds for her surgery. She had her operation on Jan. 29, and her prognosis for complete recovery is good.
We can't thank the membership enough for their generous support. You have made a real difference in Laurie's life.

Iain Muir, P.Geol.
Shelley Moore, P.Geol.
Caroline Williams, P.Geol.
Richard Brandley, P.Geol.

Mandatory Donations
Would Undermine Goodwill

Re: Education Foundation Anticipates Increase in Awards, The PEGG, March 2003.

I understand the APEGGA Education Foundation's great ambition to increase the number and value of scholarships and awards. However, I read with dismay that the foundation is even contemplating the idea of seeking approval for mandatory donations.
I am one of the founding members of the foundation (and, by the way, an active volunteer in many APEGGA initiatives). At the time, the foundation board of directors was somewhat reluctant to even consider including voluntary donation with the membership renewal notice.

The mandatory approach is detrimental, and I am sure would make the present generous members think twice about making any donation more than the mandatory amount. Of course the next step would possibly be to consider increasing the mandatory donation or who knows what.

I'm a member of many technical societies also and donation is optional in all cases. I am all for encouraging and assisting students in their pursuit of studies - and not only in science and engineering. I am also a donor of a memorial scholarship in music at the University of Alberta.

Please remember that our generous members have commitments for donations to other charitable organizations, some of which may be in much more dire need than the APEGGA Education Foundation. Other members and I will gladly donate whatever we can and when we can with our limited resources to spare, but do not compel us in any way to donate.

Ever heard of the person who killed the goose that used to lay golden EGGs!

Dr. Raj S.V. Rajan, P.Eng.
Sherwood Park

Other Scholarships Available

I do appreciate the need for scholarships and awards to deserving and prospective students, but in my opinion many of these students are already able to access other scholarship funds, such as the Rutherford scholarships, as they need to have very high marks to enter university. I had to work my way through engineering at university, while raising a family, so I also feel that it is perfectly fine to actually have to earn some money for education, or apply for a loan and pay the money back later while practicing as a professional.

There are literally hundreds of worthy causes in each community. Many foundations receive very little funding at all, let alone a whopping $50,000 a year.

This seeming lack of support, as the average annual donation is less than $2 a member, may indicate that members are not fully behind the giving of money to this foundation. Like myself, perhaps they support many other charitable causes with donations of money and personal time.

I would never agree with a mandatory donation. In my opinion, this would be a tax on APEGGA membership. Just because other professional organizations see fit to make contributions mandatory does not make it right or good for every organization.

Dorothy Johansen, P.Eng.

Bouquet for The PEGG

My congratulations to The PEGG staff and writers for continuously improving the publication's quality. I have noticed that over time the articles have become more interesting and relevant.

The January 2003 issue was particularly useful. With great interest I read about Ross Cheriton, P.Eng., (A Sleuth Among Engineers)
whereas the flipside article on P3 partnerships, Banff and Jasper Opt for the P3 Treatment, provided insight that is directly relevant for a current project.

Rob Hoffmann, P.Eng.

Professional Scientists,
Not Politicians

It is sad to observe the politicization of the discussions in The PEGG on the issue of the effect of ratification of the Kyoto Accord on oilsands project economics. I do not know if the professional training of geologists and geophysicists includes the area of project economics, but it is a main area of training and responsibility for engineers. And a key part of project economics is evaluation of the relative importance of the factors that impact the outcome.

Some writers to The PEGG might consider using basic economic principles to evaluate several points before rushing to the conclusion that compliance with the Kyoto is a threat to "the wellbeing of my family."

First, current information about the economics of planned oilsands projects clearly indicates very economically harmful non-Kyoto-related capital cost overruns in the neighbourhood of 20 to 30 per cent have occurred due to shortages of labour and materials.

Second, the price of oil clearly drives oilsands economics more than any other factor. We all know, from recent events such as the war in the Middle East and labour unrest in Venezuela, that the oil price is remarkably hard to predict.

Third, there are the ongoing efforts by natives to obtain fees for service company access to their described traditional lands. If this current issue is not resolved, it could have as much impact on oilsands project economics as compliance with the Kyoto Accord. Fourth, there appears to be a current shortage of additional refinery capacity to handle Canadian oil, particularly heavy oil.

Remarkably, none of these factors has received even a thousandth of the mention in the news media, including The PEGG, that the Kyoto Accord has been given.

Ladies and gentlemen of APEGGA, we have collectively allowed ourselves to be used by politicians, who appear to be caught up in philosophical and territorial battles. It would be better for us to collectively use a scientific approach, including economic analysis, to determine whether Kyoto is a real issue with regard to oilsands development.

Otherwise we will contribute to the distraction from recognizing and addressing other issues that are impediments to oil and gas development, and this will jeopardize our professional integrity.

Kathleen Laverty Wilson wrote an interesting editorial on this subject, by the way, which discusses it more clearly than I have. It can be found on page eight of the Jan. 20, 2003, issue of Oilweek.

Karl Miller, P. Eng.


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